Sep 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Virginia won't allow transgender kids to change names without parental consent

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Va., on Sept. 1. Photo: Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R.) is reversing the state's policies on how transgender students are treated in schools.

The big picture: Republican-led states around the country have been introducing laws targeting transgender youth. Virginia's new guidelines, released Friday, pit the state at the center of a national battle over how transgender youth should be treated at school, per WaPo.

Details: With the new rules, the Virginia Department of Education is seeking to reverse changes that went into effect last year that allowed students to use names, pronouns and restrooms that aligned with their gender identity.

  • Under the 2021 rules, schools were also encouraged to go on a case-by-case basis in deciding whether to share information with parents and legal guardians about their child's gender identity.
  • "The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and social transformation in schools," the new guidelines state, adding that the previous rules "disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles" that impact how schools educate students.

What's new: The new policies will require transgender students to use school facilities and programs that match the sex they were assigned at birth, rather than that which aligns with their gender identity.

  • Students won't be able to change their names or pronouns at school without the consent of parents or legal guardians. They can't alter the legal name or sex on school documents until families submit legal documentation to substantiate the change.
  • And, even if parents or legal guardians make the written request, the schools cannot require staff to refer to transgender students by their name or gender in any manner that would violate staff members' "constitutionally protected rights."

What they're saying: State Delegate Danica Roem alleged the guidelines violate the Virginia Human Rights Act, which protects individuals from unlawful discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity, in public settings.

  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said the plan targets LGBTQ children and it will out kids, "require their identities not be respected, and hurt them in the very places where they are supposed to learn and thrive."
  • "[The governor's] new model policy calls for the misgendering and outing of children in schools where they're supposed to be safe," Delegate Mike Mullin said in a tweet. "Trans kids deserve to learn and thrive in an environment free of bullying, intimidation, and fear."

What's next: The new policies are set to go into effect after a 30-day public comment period, per the New York Post.

For the record: About 43% of the transgender population in the U.S. is between the ages of 13 and 24, per a June report released by the UCLA Williams Institute.

Go deeper: Va. Supreme Court sides with teacher who refused to use transgender students' pronouns

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct that Rep. Abigail Spanberger is a federal legislator, not a state lawmaker.

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